Pace without pause: On Imran Khan’s politics

With its verdict on Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court effectively ruled that events of the last week in Pakistani politics were null and void, holding the Deputy Speaker’s actions on Sunday “unconstitutional and illegal”, when he rejected the opposition’s No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. The verdict, which has been hailed by the Opposition and Pakistan’s media as the defeat of Mr. Khan’s ‘assault on democracy’, has had the slightly unusual impact of reinstating PM Khan after he had voluntarily resigned, and resurrecting the National Assembly, which had been dissolved the same day by Pakistani President Arif Alvi, as he called for fresh elections. Parliamentarians will now, on Saturday, re-enact their actions, and convene again for the no-confidence motion vote. However, it will not all be “deja vu”, as the Speaker has been ordered by the court on how to proceed: by holding the no-confidence vote and then an adjournment only if Mr. Khan is able to win the vote. If he loses, as is likely, the session can be adjourned after a new Prime Minister is voted in. The Supreme Court has also ended Mr. Khan’s “Plan B”. After it became clear that the combined Opposition, including members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and many of his coalition partners, had the numbers to instal Pakistan Muslim League (N) chief Shehbaz Sharif in his place, he raised the “foreign conspiracy” bogey. He ensured the confidence vote was cancelled, and before the Opposition could gather its thoughts, raced through his resignation and recommendation to President Alvi for fresh elections. The pace and purpose of the actions of the former cricket captain were to ensure that none of the decisions could be reversed, and willy-nilly, the country would be pushed into elections a year earlier than when the Assembly’s tenure ends.

It is clear that Mr. Khan overestimated his ability to manage the denouement of the drama played out this week. He has also made some formidable opponents apart from the political Opposition, including Pakistan’s all-powerful military establishment, which he has openly challenged, the U.S., which has consistently avoided engaging with him, and which he has named for “threatening” him, and the judiciary itself, which his cabinet colleagues have accused of carrying out a “judicial coup” against him. While Saturday’s events may finally draw the curtains on the political thriller and usher in a new government, the final verdict on Mr. Khan’s seemingly reckless and unprecedented actions will probably only be sounded when the country next goes to the polls. If Mr. Khan is voted out, he will strengthen and reinforce the precedent in one respect: no Pakistani Prime Minister since 1947 has yet completed the full five-year term of the National Assembly in office.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2022 12:50:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/pace-without-pause-the-hindu-editorial-on-imran-khans-politics/article65303973.ece